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Fraud is a growth industry in a virtual world

02 Feb 2011

Developments in technology and the internet provide exciting opportunities to build a successful business, but they also provide new ways for fraudsters to target your cash flow.Only a few years ago it took a true artist or forger to manufacture a fraudulent document. You could easily pick out the photocopied document or a fake logo. Now anyone, with a little knowledge, can use programs such as Photoshop and a few tricks learned on the internet to create false documents and even signatures that are almost impossible to detect. Businesses are particularly vulnerable, and offenders can range from employees to someone you have never done business with.There is no doubt that your business will become a target at some point, but the good news is that you don’t have to be a victim if you view your computer as your No.1 fraud prevention tool.Remember the first lesson your computer taught you about trust?  Not everything that comes into your computer can be trusted; that is why you run an up-to-date anti-virus system. Your anti-virus screens and verifies all incoming data, and then continues to run in the background to ensure that files are not corrupted. It relies on verification, not trust.Why not do the same for your business?   Much has changed in the world; never before has spin been spun so well. It features in advertising, product brochures, investment catalogues, CVs; it is the No.1 sales tool, but does it reflect reality? Usually not. Its purpose is to persuade you into a course of action that benefits the person creating the spin, placing them in control.Doing business based on virtual truth that is "having the appearance of truth” could mean that your decisions are severely flawed. Decisions should always be made on known and verifiable facts. If you find that a person is being untruthful, then there is good reason to reconsider whether you do business with them. There is only one person responsible for the security of your business, and that is you. Fraud and corruption are on the increase; computers facilitate fraud, but they can also prevent it. Simple online searches can tell you a lot about your new employee, partner, customer, contractor or supplier. Never before has information been so readily available at our fingertips – the secret is knowing where to look and what to look for.Your computer can’t tell you what to do, but it can help you make decisions, and the best decisions are those which are made on verified information, which is worthy of trust. Check this example out for yourself: You receive an invoice for an advert in a publication; no one in your company can remember approving the expense. The invoice is for $135 from NZ look Limited.

  1. Check the company out on the Companies Register ( This should be on your favourites, and learning how to use this site is imperative. Visit this for anything that has ‘Ltd’ in the name. This will tell you when the company was set up, who the shareholders and directors are, and you can also search to find which other companies the key players are associated with.
  2. Google the company name ‘NZ LOOK’ and the directors’ names. You can also search Google using post office box numbers, telephone numbers and email addresses.
  3. Search national papers, eg: using any of the names identified in your Companies Office search.
You never know what you will find, but you have to remember that you are not searching to prove something; the searches are to gather information from which you make the decisions. Also remember that it is up to you to check the credibility of the source. Scams occur in businesses all the time. Keep up to date with the scams posted on Forewarned is forearmed. Another handy link is the Domain Name Register ( This will quickly tell you who is behind a particular website and when the site was set up. Fraud can occur anywhere. It is impossible to predict when and how it may occur, and there is only one thing for certain: your computer, used as an anti-fraud tool, has the potential to save you and your business.The future of your business depends on who you believe. Trust, but verify.